Experience Rock Climbing up Lava Cliffs in Baños, Ecuador

written by local expert Tom Rogers

Tom is the co-founder of Adventure in You and has been traveling the world for the last 9 years, living in 5 different continents. His advice on travel gear, adventure travel, and business have been featured in Foundr, Business Insider, CNN and more.

Many travelers know the small town called Baños, as the adventure capital of Ecuador. Rock Climbing, Whitewater Rafting and Cayoning are just some of the adventures you can do here. We had a week there and wasn’t going to waste any time as we knew there was loads to do!

The Small Town Called Baños

As most of you know, Anna and I spent around 6 weeks in Ecuador. We mainly wanted to practice surfing in Olon, learn Spanish and experience as many of the adventures in Ecuador as we could. This is why we decided to visit Baños, a small town located in the Eastern Tungurahua Province, in central Ecuador. Being a bus ride away from Quito, Guayaquil and the coast, we really had no reason to skip it…. and oh my, are we glad we didn’t!

Soon as we rocked up in Baños, we headed straight for Geo Tours. By already deciding what we wanted to do and reading so many reviews online we knew we wanted to do everything with these guys. One of the things on top of my list was a day of Rock Climbing.

Related: Tips on How to Learn Spanish in Olon and MontanitaBanos Rock climbing view

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Rock Climbing in Baños Options

These are the two Rock Climbing options offered by Geo Tours.

Maria Ines Half Day Climb

Departure time: 9:00 or 14:00

Program length: 4 hours

Technical difficulty:

French: 5a, 6b, 6c, 7a+, 7b, 7c

American: 5.6, 5.10c, 5.11a, 5.11d, 5.12a, 5.12b, 5.12c

San Juan de Chimborazo (Two Day Expedition)

Departure time: 8:30 Return at 20:00 on Day 2

Program length: 2 days

Technical difficulty:

French: 5a – 7c+

American: 5.6, 5.10c, 5.11a, 5.11d, 5.12a, 5.12b, 5.12c+

Due to the fact we were on a tight schedule and wanted to try as many adventures as we could I opted for the half-day climb.

My Experience Taking on the Lava Cliffs

Like most of our days in Baños, it started by meeting up in the GeoTours office where we got outfitted with the proper gear before we set off.

The Gear for this Rock Climb included:

  • Helmet
  • Rock Climbing shoes
  • Harness
  • Karabiners
  • Ropes
  • Chalk

My guide for the day was very professional and friendly. He spoke perfect English and was happy to answer any of my questions. A quick 10-15 minute ride and we arrived.

Tom rock climbing in Banos

A further 10-minute walk brought us to the foot of the walls I would be attempting to climb. The walls here are comprised of basalt rock expelled centuries ago from the Tungurahua volcano. This type of rock is formed when lava reaches the Earth’s surface at a volcano or mid ocean ridge. The lava is between 1200° C when it gets to the surface. It cools quickly which we personally witnessed (if you are lucky you can see the Volcano erupting at night when it is active), then within a few days, it will form solid rock. The view of this dark/grey lava rock cliff and the raging river (Río Pastasa), is very impressive and even more so when you climb the wall.

It doesn’t matter how experienced you are at Rock Climbing as this wall has it all. Beginner trails all the way to super advanced. This was good news for me as it was my first time Outdoor Rock Climbing and I had a feeling it was going to be a little different to Indoor centers.

Related: Getting Wet n’ Wild Whitewater Rafting in Baños

Tom rock climbing in Banos

My guide quickly set up the gear and climbed the beginner wall to set up the equipment at the top. It was crazy to watch how fast and easy he climbed. If you think Spiderman is impressive you should have seen this guy! Naturally after seeing this I figured, “How hard could it be?”. 5 minutes and an introduction talk later I was the one climbing. However I would describe my climbing as more of struggling my way up the wall.

The guide continued to shout instructions, “Move your right hand up just a little higher”, “Put weight on your left foot and push up”. Initially my technique was so bad but I was gradually getting better. Around 10 minutes later but what felt like a lifetime I made it to the top of the first wall.

Related: Extreme Canyoning in Baños with GeoTours

Tom rock climbing in Banos

As mentioned, I had been Indoor Rock Climbing before but this was something else. It’s all about the technique and when it comes to outdoor climbing even more so. The slightest wrong position and you can feel the pressure in your body getting worse before losing grip and falling a meter or so. Don’t worry though; the guide catches you safely every time. If you need a rest, which you will, shout down, “Slack” and he will support your weight while you take a breather.

It turned out the second wall was my limit. Despite trying endless times, I just couldn’t get past the last section. Despite the encouragement from the guide and Anna, my body was tiring. I had to put pressure on my left foot, push up (almost jump) and catch a rock with my right hand. No matter how many times I tried I just couldn’t make it.Tom rock climbing in Banos

It’s not often I give up but in this case I have to say, I did. After getting back down I looked up. Yes I was gutted I didn’t make it but man did I enjoy every second of it. I had got a taste of Outdoor Rock Climbing and I loved it. The views, combined with a great work out, combined with the adrenaline made it an awesome day out.

Read: Paragliding Over the Tungarahua Volcano in Baños

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What to Bring for Rock Climbing

  • Warm clothes (preferable stretchy pants)
  • Sun cream
  • Walking shoes (for the initial walk there)
  • Camera
  • Sun glasses (if you want to look extra cool)

Rock Climbing Costs

The prices change depending on season but head on over to GeoTours website and contact them for up to date prices.

Website | Contact GeoToursTom rock climbing in Banos

Rock Climbing in Baños Review

Overall I loved my first Outdoor Rock Climbing experience. The whole day was organized very well, the guide was great and I really enjoyed it. I feel like I will be better the next time I try it, which I hope is sooner than later. If you have a free day in Baños, add this to your list. Trust me, you will be pleasantly surprised!

Tom rock climbing in Banos

Please note that despite receiving complimentary services from GeoTours, all opinions are ours and remain completely unbiased.

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